Rays’ Osleivis Basabe Can Really Hit

Osleivis Basabe got a head start.

The 20-year-old infielder took advantage of his presence in big league camp this spring to make a major impression on his bosses, hitting the ball often and hard in drill work and exhibitions. He went 9-for-19 (.474) in Grapefruit League action.

Assigned to Triple-A Durham after splitting last season between High-A Bowling Green and Double-A Montgomery, Basabe rolled his spring work into the regular season.

In his first 26 games with the Bulls, Basabe hit .330/.372/.482 with two home runs. He plays mostly shortstop but also sees ample time at second and third base.

“He’s a competitor who has a unique profile. He can hit,” Rays general manager Peter Bendix said. “There’s not many guys you can say they are really good at hitting, and he’s one of them.

“His ability to make solid contact on a wide variety of pitches is unique and impressive. And he hits the ball hard, no matter where it’s pitched. And he continues to get better. It seems like each year he has gotten better, even though he’s facing tougher pitching.’’

What the 5-foot-11, 188-pound Basabe hasn’t done yet is hit many home runs. He has 10 in five pro seasons.

“We’re hopeful that the power comes later. He’s still young,” Bendix said. “But hitting the ball hard, spraying it around the field, getting on base, hitting for a high average—that all plays, too.’’

Basabe signed with the Rangers out of Venezuela in late 2017. He joined the Rays in the December 2020 trade that sent Nathaniel Lowe to Texas.

When the Rays traded Lowe and two others to the Rangers, they acquired Basabe as well as outfielders Heriberto Hernandez and Alexander Ovalles.

“At the time, I Heriberto was more advanced, and we still think Heriberto can hit,’’ Bendix said. “But it’s also part of the reason why when you make trades, oftentimes you want to spread it out over a couple of players.

“We are not smart enough to be able to predict the future with any kind of certainty. And if you can get a handful of players in a trade, and all of them have ingredients, you increase the chance that one of them ends up being better than you think.’’




— Double-A Montgomery righthander Cole Wilcox, acquired in the December 2020 trade of Blake Snell, has made a solid return from September 2021 Tommy John surgery. The Rays were pleased with his work below the surface of his 5.26 ERA through six starts.

— Triple-A Durham righthander Taj Bradley, the Rays’ top pitching prospect, made an impressive three-start cameo in the majors in April, then was sent back to Durham to transition to a five-day routine so he would be ready for future big league use.


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